A father and mother in the midcoast say they’re working hard to support three young children while trying to buy their own home.

But digging out of debt is a struggle.

So with Christmas around the corner, they decided to turn to the Portland Press Herald Toy Fund so their kids have gifts to open.

“We’re trying to pay off bills to get our credit score fixed and get a loan to buy a home,” the mother wrote to the fund.

She works early mornings at a supermarket to be home in the afternoon with the kids, who are ages 4, 2 and 1. Her husband is a self-employed contractor who works as many hours as he can, when not with the kids or idled because of bad weather.

The family is living with the children’s grandparents, she wrote, “but hopefully, not for long.” She hopes their hard work means that next year they’ll have Christmas in their own home.

The Portland Press Herald Toy Fund in the Spirit of Bruce Roberts is using donations from readers to provide toys to thousands of Maine children who might otherwise not receive holiday gifts because of hardships faced by their parents. Bruce Roberts was the original pen name of the newspaper columnist who co-founded the fund in 1949.

The fund – in its 68th year – is accepting applications for toys from needy families in Cumberland, York, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Androscoggin and Knox counties.

Applications can be downloaded at pressheraldtoyfund.org or picked up at the Press Herald’s Welcome Center at 295 Gannett Drive in South Portland. Call 791-6672 to have one mailed.

Donations can be made at pressheraldtoyfund.org or by writing checks to the Portland Press Herald Toy Fund and mailing them to the fund at P.O. Box 7310, Portland, ME 04112.

TOY FUND DONATIONS

In memory of my Dad – Sharon Lorrain $25

Pine Tree Campers $300

Benny Maciag $100

The Putnam Family $250

In memory of Mary and Emery Mansfield $10

In memory of Edward and Eric Brown $10

Richard and Kimberly Brooks $100

Lions Club of Cape Elizabeth $250

Peace on Earth…good will towards all…Alice and Liz $30

In memory of grandfather Bob Beith, “Bruce Roberts”: Jane Wilbur Perlowski, Susan Wilbur Collier $200

Cyrus and Patricia Hagge $500

Anonymous $50

In fond memory of Ben and Mary Lyons and Jim Lynch, from the Lyons/Lynch families $100

To a gift for every child, the Koocher family $500

Jacob and Kristine Watson $20

Year to date $18,236